The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul announced that it has lifted the schism against the Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) since it declared its independence from the Serbian church in 1967. The decision is not full independence for the Macedonian church, and the Greek dominated Patriarchate is careful not to use its Macedonian name, but refers to it as the Archbishopric of Ohrid.

Considering the appeals from this church to the Mother Church and the repeated calls from the state of (North) Macedonia, we determined the following: That we accept in communion the faithful, clerics and the people of this church under Archbishop Stefan, healing the wound of division and pouring wine and balm on the wound of our Orthodox brothers there, the Phanar Patriarchy said in its statement.

It insists that the name under which it will recognize the church is “Ohrid”, and will recognize its jurisdiction over the borders of the state of (North) Macedonia.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate calls on the Serbian and the Macedonian church to regulate their further relations. This could be in the works, as reports have grown over the past days that bishops from both churches have met in Nis and have reached some kind of agreement.

The Serbian church claims that the Macedonian church unlawfully separated from its reach, that was established after the Serbian occupation of Macedonia in 1912. The dispute has lasted for decades and has made it difficult for the Macedonian church to formally cooperate with the other Orthodox churches, as part of a broader push by the neighboring countries to hamper the establishment of an independent Macedonian state.